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cence. Fame is good, if honestly acquired, and it puffeth not up. And Learning is good, if usefully applied, and the heart be not left uncultured. But neither of these, nor all of these, can fill the soul.
No! Before the soul can be filled, it must hunger and thirst after righteousness. So said the blessed Jesus, and he alone knew what would satisfy it. The soul must long, as did praying David's: As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. Thou hast put gladness into my heart, more than in the time, that the corn and the wine increased. And said he, whose meat and whose drink it was to do the will of his heavenly Father, Blessed are ye, that hunger now, for ye shall be filled. Wo unto you that are full, for ye shall hunger. Wherefore do ye spend money for that, which is not bread, and your labour for that, which satisfieth not? I am the bread of life; he that eateth of this bread, shall live forever. Whoso drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst.
Instead of the Wealth of this poor fading world, the soul must crave, and toil, and pray for, that treasure in the heavens, which neither time, nor death, can corrupt.
Instead of Eminence on earth, the soul of man must aspire, with abasement of heart, and humiliation of mind, after a seat at Christ's right hand, in his heavenly kingdom.
Instead of human Learning, the mind must covet that wisdom, which is from above, and which will rectify the heart of its errors.
Instead of turning aside to disport with the Graces and Loves, on the rosebeds of Pleasure, in the groves of Dissipation; the immortal soul should reach after the fruits of the Tree of Life, which stands in the midst of the celestial Eden.
Whoever hath this hunger and thirst shall be filled. However poor, or sick, or dejected, in this world of wo; the loaves and fishes of comfort shall be multiplied; and
the cruise of the oil of consolation shall not fail; and even the poor widow may buy this food with her two mites. Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to this fountain of righteousness. God hath prepared it. Jesus Christ hath opened it. It will cool your parched tongues, and refresh your souls. Come ye, in faith, for ye shall be filled.
FOUR LAST BEATITUDes.
5. Furthermore, said the divine Preacher on the Mount: Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.
By the virtue of mercy is meant kindness, compassion; a propensity to remove, or alleviate the miseries of mankind; an unwillingness to increase our own gratifications by making others unhappy; and a readiness to yield up a part of our own comforts, to render others more easy. It implies an aversion to any thing, in word or deed, which is unfeeling or oppressive. This virtue must not be merely an instinctive impulse to kindness, an amiable trait in our natural dispositions; but it must have respect to the law of God, to a sense of duty, and of our own daily dependance. It must be prompted by righteous motives, and directed to proper ends. It must be uniform in its exercise, and extended not only to our equals, but to our dependants; not only to our friends, but to our enemies. What say the maxims of wisdom? Do yourselves a kindness, by charity. Forgive every man's fault, except your own. Better suffer a great evil, than do a little one. Living well is the best revenge we can take on our enemies. It is a mark of great proficiency, to bear easily the failings of other men. He that would have a good revenge, let him leave it to God. But to illustrate the virtue of mercy by example.
If we have a servant, who has been guilty of some fault, and he cometh, and it repenteth him of his error, and he seeketh reconciliation, we must say unto him, Go in peace, for this time, and sin no more. For, said Jesus to the hard master, Shouldest not thou have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?
If we have a neighbour in distress for food, for raiment, for money, for a home, or in sickness; we should remember that it is written, He that despiseth the poor sinneth, but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. And, he that hath pity on the poor, lendeth unto the Lord, and that which he hath given, will he pay him again.
If we have a poor debtor, whose heart is willing, but whose hands are weak; who says, have patience with me, I pray thee, and I will pay thee all; we must, if we are not able to forgive him the debt, wait patiently until his change come. Else, how can we pray, Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
If, in our travels, we meet with a man wounded by the way-side, we must not, like the Priest and Levite, come and look on, and pass by on the other side, but, like the good Samaritan, we must bind up his wounds; and if he be far from his kindred, set him upon our own beast, and remove him to a place, where they will minister unto him.
If we have in our possession the noble spirited and willing horse, to bear us upon our journies; or the patient and laborious ox, to turn up the furrow on our farms; we should remember, that the same Bible, that says, man was made lord over the beast of the field, says also, that the merciful man is merciful to his beast. As the spirit of the beast goeth downward to the earth, how unjust is it, to deprive him of some comfort in this, his only short life. We should reflect, how more faithful is the beast to his earthly master, than is man to his heavenly Master; and that when he does wrong, it is from ignorance; but when we do wrong, it is against great knowledge.
Thus I have defined, and exemplified to you, the virtue of mercy. But my voice is weak, without the sanction of divine truth. Such sanction beams from every page of that Holy Book, which is all Judgment and Mercy. In one place, it says, Blessed is he that considereth the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble; he shall be blessed upon the earth; the Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing, and will make all his bed in his sickness. In another place, The merciful man doeth good to his own soul; but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh. In another, Is not this the fast that I have chosen, to
loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burthens, and to let the oppressed go free; is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor, that are cast out, to thy house; then the Lord shall satisfy thy soul. Again, Be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another. And again, Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great.
Now if any one have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eye of the widow to fail; or have eaten his meat himself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof; if he have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering; let him ponder on what follows: But whoso hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother have need, how dwelleth the love of God in him? And let him reflect, that he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy. But let the merciful rejoice, that God is not unrighteous, to forget his labours of love; for, says David, I have been young, and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. And that, with the merciful, God will show himself merciful.
And now, I would ask, can it be, that among men, who need so much mercy themselves; there should be found any, who are not willing to show mercy unto others?
6. Again said this holy Preacher: Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.
It is one thing to be pure in life, and another thing to be pure in heart; one thing to be pure before men, and quite another thing to be pure before God. A man may keep all the exterior commands of the Moral Law; he may worship no graven image; he may not outwardly take the name of the Lord in vain; he may not forget to go up to the courts of the Lord on the Sabbath day; he may honour his father and his mother; he may not kill, nor be unchaste, nor steal, nor bear false witness against his neighbour; he may do none of these things, and may be accounted among men as a very good Christian: And yet, he may not love God; he may bow down his heart before an earthly idol; he may profane the Lord's day
with lip-service; he may look after unholy objects; and may secretly covet his neighbour's prosperity. He may have no truth in the inward parts. His mind and conscience may be defiled. He may profess to know God, but in works of the heart may deny him, being disobedient. Such an one was likened by Him, who looked through the lips into the naked breast, to a whited sepulchre; which indeed appears beautiful without, but is within full of all uncleanness. A man may pass before men for a saint, and yet pass before God as an hypocrite.
Blessed are the pure in heart how simple! how reasonable! God requireth of us, no lamb to smoke upon the altar; no incense to steam from the censer; no weary pilgrimage to a prophet's shrine; no bloody penance upon our bodies; no long prayers in the market places; no almsgivings for priestly absolution. No. Bring no more vain oblations. God desireth mercy, and not sacrifice. He saith, My son, give me thine heart. One tear of repentance for sin; one sigh of regret over the desolations of the fall; one aspiration after holiness; these alone are the offerings, which the Saviour will bear to his Father in heaven, as coming from the pure in heart.
Hear what holy David says. David, that eminent sinner, and that eminent saint. That man, who was led away, by his human passions, to fall into great sins; but who was led back again, by his humbled heart, to bemoan himself in dust and ashes. He says, I know, O God, that thou triest the heart. And his prayer for Solomon was, that God would give him a perfect heart to keep his commandments. In another place, he says, With the pure, thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward, thou wilt show thyself froward. For truly, God is good to such as are of a clean heart. Again, he asks, Who shall stand in thine holy place? he that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lift up his soul into vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. And at last, with a holy zeal, and with a feeling sense of the treachery and desperate wickedness of the carnal heart, he cries, Create in me a new heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Unto those, whose souls are sustained by faith, and whose evil natures are corrected by a conformity to divine